DemDaily: The Status of Dreamers

June 16, 2023

Yesterday marked the 11th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era initiative that allows "Dreamers" -- undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children -- to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

Since first instituted by President Barack Obama in an executive order on June 15, 2012, DACA has extended the promise of the American Dream to more than 800,000 young immigrants.

The "DREAM Act" (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) was first introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and former Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in 2001 and has been reprised and reintroduced every two years. Despite bipartisan efforts, it continues to fail in Congress, along with comprehensive immigration reform.

While DACA, which arose out of those failed efforts, did not provide the path to citizenship proposed under the DREAM Act, it was intended to protect Dreamers' immigration status until Congress could pass such legislation.

In 2016, during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to terminate DACA, claiming it provided amnesty to millions of "illegal" immigrants. In racist comments made before and after he assumed office, Trump publicly declared Mexican immigrants, who account for 78% of DACA recipients, "criminals, drug dealers [and] rapists," and Dreamers "people from sh--hole countries."

The Trump administration attempted to rescind DACA in September 2017, but was blocked by a series of lawsuits, including one from a coalition of 15 states and DC that alleged the administration's actions violated due process and were designed "to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) also filed a separate lawsuit to reverse the order, Regents of the University of California v. Department of Homeland Security, which was joined by Maine, Minnesota, and Maryland.

Three federal courts, ruling on these and other cases, found Trump's decision to revoke DACA unconstitutional and ordered the federal government to restore DACA and begin accepting new applicants.

The Trump administration appealed to the US Supreme Court which, in June 2020, ruled against the appellants, ordering the decision to rescind DACA vacated. The justices did not, however, rule on the underlying question of whether DACA itself is legal.

On the first day of his presidency, January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 10 to reinstate DACA and strengthen legal protections for Dreamers.

In his July 2021 ruling in Texas v. United States, filed by Texas and other Republican-led states, US District Court judge Andrew Hanen ruled DACA was "created in violation of the law" and "illegally implemented."

While the Biden administration was ordered to immediately stop granting new applications, current DACA recipients were protected pending the appeal process.

Since Texas v. United States, an estimated 400,000 people who would have been eligible to apply to DACA for the first time haven’t had access to the program. About 580,000 current recipients are still able to renew their DACA status every two years.

In October 2022 the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the district court ruling and sent the case back to the lower court to review the legality of DACA under a new executive order -- implemented by the Biden administration in the same month -- that codified the program into a federal regulation to strengthen it against legal challenges.

A decision once again rests in the hands of Judge Hanen, who heard oral arguments June 1, 2023, and is expected to rule some time this year. If, as anticipated, he rules against DACA, then the case will likely be appealed to the the Fifth Circuit, and possibly to the Supreme Court.

In the interim, in his ongoing efforts to “preserve and fortify” DACA, President Biden in April announced a plan to expand health coverage for DACA recipients.

On yesterday's anniversary, Biden said, "While Vice President Harris and I will continue fighting to pass legislation to protect Dreamers and create a path to citizenship, only Congress can provide permanent and lasting stability for these young people and their families. Congress must act to protect our Dreamers."

DemList will keep you informed.

Please Support Our Work!

Connecting You to The Party

Connecting You to Each Other

Kimberly Scott

SignUp for the Daily updates on policy, politics and the players.
Follow DemList on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn

Sources: NBC, CNN,, Axios, White House, DNC, InformedImmigrant

Related posts

DemDaily: The Deal

DemDaily: The Deal

October 22, 2019 Our deal is that DemList keeps you informed daily on the issues, the politics and the players, but we rarely ask for help. We don’t inundate you with emails or advertising...

DemDaily: Drilling Down our Shores

DemDaily: Drilling Down our Shores

January 10, 2018 Last week the Trump administration announced plans to allow new oil and gas drilling in nearly all of our nation’s coastal waters. The White House cited the move as one...

DemDaily: The Cabinet Countdown

DemDaily: The Cabinet Countdown

December 16, 2020 Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm are among the latest nominees for the Biden-Harris Cabinet. In the musical chairs of...